BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES MARCH 21

State Bank approves restructuring plan for Saigon Commercial Bank

The restructuring plan of Saigon Commercial Bank (SCB) for 2019-2020, with a vision to 2030 has got a nod from the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV).

According to a 2019 financial statement, SCB is currently among the top five largest banks in Vietnam in terms of total assets, worth nearly VND568 trillion (over US$24.4 billion).

Currently, the bank has 239 transaction offices across 28 provinces and cities and more than 7,300 employees.

In 2018, the Government and the SBV advocated allowing SCB to develop a new restructuring plan for the next period. It is considered a proactive restructuring plan to support a number of new mechanisms, as a solution to increase capital and improve the financial capacity of SCB after a healthy restructuring.

Vo Tan Hoang Van, Member of the Board of Directors cum General Director of SCB, said that his bank has determined that besides recovering bad debts and outstanding debts in the restructuring process, the promotion the development of retail banking and modern banking services are inevitable trends.

Therefore, in 2019-2020, SCB will focus on restructuring credit activities and improving its financial capacity, while investing in technology and human resources and developing the customer system, thereby accumulating resources for retail and digital banking development in the future.

"SCB wishes to bring the best satisfaction and experience to customers, aiming to become a leading bank with service and management quality commensurate with a bank in the top 5 in terms of total assets," Van stated.

HCMC suggests ban on contractor appointment to unable enterprises

HCMC People’s Committee has proposed the Ministry of Planning and Investment to build an information system to make the list of unable construction and building consulting firms, who have caused three projects or more run behind schedule, and ban contractor appointment to these firms.

The committee also proposed the ministry to have a supplementary list of projects, expected to be inspected in the next phase, to the information system for investors to report on relevant contents and data.

According to the proposal, the ministry should stipulate norms on supervision fee and investment estimation fee or guide determination of these fees, build a draft law on investment under Public Private Partnership (PPP) form in which the city budget will not be used for covering loss making projects.

To projects which investment policies were approved before the Investment Law 2014 took effect in 2014, HCMC proposed to add some more regulations permitting investors to continue working on compensation and site clearance basing on their negotiation with individuals and organizations using land. This aims to create a foundation for investment policy approval.

Essential consumer goods assured in 2020

BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES MARCH 21

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has asked relevant agencies, associations and wholesale enterprises to report on supply and demand of goods and food throughout the country in March and the next months of the year.

According to statistics announced from the Ministry's office, essential commodities are enough to meet resident's demand in 2020.

For food products, this year’s rice output is estimated to reach 43.3 million tons, equivalent to 26 million of tons of husked rice while the domestic consumption demand is only around 19 to 20 million tons. Thus, there would still have a surplus for exporting of about 6 million tons of rice.

In terms of cattle and poultry meat, the total output of live weight meat of all kind in 2020 is expected to reach 5.5 to 5.8 million tons, an increase of about 10 percent compared to 2019.

In particular, pork is estimated at 3.5 million tons, poultry meat could reach 1.36 million tons and buffalo and beef are about 0.48 million tons every year.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade estimates that the total supply of such meats is enough to meet the consumption needs of 100 million people, excluding supply of seafood products reaching about 8.2 million tons every year.

Concerning to fruits and vegetables, the total production of fruits and vegetables reached about 40 to 50 million tons, meeting domestic demand and export.

In terms of sugar, the domestic production will reach about 1 million tons, of which the capacity of the plants can reach 1.5 million tons.

Regarding to medical products in 2020, the value of domestically produced medicine will be estimated at US$ 2.9 billion while the value of imported medicine will be estimated at US$ 4.35 billion and the value of exported one will be at US$ 165 million.

Therefore, the plan of medicine supply and production is expected to meet the demand of people in 2020.

For food export, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will proactively join hands with other ministries and agencies to take advantage of opportunities to export Vietnamese agricultural products to other countries after the Covid-19 epidemic abates.

Annually, the national rice stock still reserves 200,000 to 300,000 tons of rice which is planned for supporting natural disaster or disease- hit localities.

Nielsen Vietnam and with Infocus Mekong Mobile Panel have just conducted a survey to understand how Vietnamese react and behave towards the Coronavirus outbreaks.

The survey has showed that 47 percent of respondents have changed their eating habits while 60 percent of them have changed entertainment/ fun activities and 70 percent of them have re-evaluated their travel plans.

44 percent of respondents felt their income has been impacted.

Covid-19 made impact on not only consumer behaviors but also shopping and out-of-home activities. 45 percent of people participating in the survey said they stock more food at while half of respondents said they have reduced frequency of visiting supermarkets, grocery stores and traditional markets.

However, 25 percent of survey participants revealed that they increase online shopping activities and reduced their shopping outside of their houses.

Along with consumer behavior changes, people purchased more instant noodle, frozen foodstuff, bottled water, canned food and sausages. Additionally, people bought more personal care commodities, paper and home care goods.

Enterprises exhausted due to Covid-19 pandemic

In the past two months, the country has had 28,400 enterprises temporarily halted operations or waited for business dissolution; 55 percent of active enterprises said that the Covid-19 pandemic will affect negatively their business performance this year.

Mr. Ralf Matthaes, Executive Director of Infocus Mekong Research, said that he has been in Vietnam for 26 years and he has never seen the economic outlook so badly affected like this, even during the period from 2010 to 2011 when the real estate bubble burst. The survey by Infocus Mekong Research conducted on 242 enterprises showed that 20 percent of enterprises affirmed better development prospects; 25 percent said that they can keep the same growth as last year; meanwhile, the situation will be worse for 55 percent of enterprises.

The main reasons were slumps in the source of raw materials imported from China and higher expenses. At Dien Quang Lamp Joint Stock Company, the raw materials are only enough to maintain production until the end of the first quarter of this year. As the pandemic might last for a long time, the company has had a backup plan, looking for alternative sources of raw materials from many other markets. However, because the prices of raw materials rose by 5-10 percent, or even up to 20 percent in some markets, the cost prices of its products as well as its production plan will be seriously affected.

The production index of some industrial industries, including crude oil and natural gas exploitation, engine-driven vehicle manufacturing, electrical device manufacturing, beverage, and garments dropped by 0.9-8.6 percent. although some main industrial products did not decrease, their increases were lower than in the same period last year. Just a few products managed to keep a high growth of 25.5-28.9 percent, including cell phone components, steel bars, corner steel, and cell phones.

In the past two months, the reason that enterprises in various fields still managed to keep the growth momentum as the input raw materials imported at the end of last year were still in stock. From March, keeping the growth momentum will be more difficult as the source of raw materials is exhausted while the alternative sources of raw materials remain limited. Trade activities between many countries will also be sluggish, or even interrupted as the blockade is extended to prevent the spread of the disease.

However, not all industries are equally affected. Tourism, hotels, retail, catering manufacturing, and logistics are currently the most affected industries. Many entertaining places, retail chains, and diners have had to close or shrink their business to lessen the pressure of premises rental costs. The survey also showed that operating efficiency has declined by 20-50 percent, depending on the economic sector and geographic location. Revenues fell by 13.48 percent compared to the same period last year.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has worked with enterprises to promote searching for the supply of raw materials in many markets. Ministries and agencies are coordinating to quickly remove bottlenecks in cargo transport activities, trade connections, electronic payment, specialized inspection, and customs clearance. Credit institutions have accelerated activities of debt rescheduling, charge-off, and reducing interest rates for enterprises. The Government also made strong moves when issuing seven measures to support businesses, especially, the credit package of about VND250 trillion to support affected enterprises. The Government also requested relevant agencies not to increase prices increases in the first and second quarters for items that are input raw materials for production of enterprises whose prices are set by the State. In order to share common difficulties, many retail networks have reduced the slotting fee and premises rental for enterprises.

Economic experts said that the effort from many sides will partly reduce the burden for enterprises. However, it is essential to control the source of domestically-produced raw materials. Accordingly, they will prioritize the raw materials for domestic enterprises instead of focusing on export. As for manufacturing enterprises, besides the effort to promote export, this is also an opportunity to develop the domestic market share. Enterprises just need to maintain production steadily to overcome the current difficult situation, they will have strong growth momentum as soon as the disease is controlled.

HFIC enhances capital mobilization for breakthrough projects

HCMC Finance and Investment Company (HFIC), formerly the HCMC Investment Fund for Urban Development Project (HIFU), is a wholly State-owned company with charter capital of VND5 trillion. It targets to mobilize capital from domestic and foreign organizations and individuals to invest directly or indirectly into the city’s priority sectors.

Between 2010 and 2019, HFIC raised over VND2.625 trillion from official development assistance (ODA) capital and VND840 billion from domestic sources. The enterprise mobilized more than VND2.134 trillion from direct foreign investment capital and VND1.832 trillion from syndicated loans. Besides this, HFIC cooperated with the HCMC Department of Finance to issue over VND18.1 trillion worth of municipal bonds, helping local authorities balance the city’s budget. Overall, HFIC has mobilized more than VND7.431 trillion to develop key infrastructure projects in the city over the past 10 years, contributing to the success of the city in implementing development goals and paving the way for welfare programs.

The firm has invested in key projects in the city, such as Hiep Phuoc New Port, Thu Duc BOO water plant, Kenh Dong water plant, Tan Phu Trung water plant and Saigon 2 Bridge. In addition, it has provided funding for outstanding projects like Hanoi Highway expansion, 36 first- and second-grade water pipes of Saigon Water Supply Corporation, University of Medicine and Pharmacy of HCMC, heath equipment of People’s Hospital 115, Trung Vuong Hospital and Trieu An Hospital. For the education sector, HFIC has funded Long Son kindergarten, HCMC University of Technology and Education, Ton Duc Thang University, International University, University of Economics and Law, Saigon University and Nguyen Tat Thanh University.

HFIC’s operation effectiveness is seen through its revenue growth of 13.94% a year in the 2013-2018 period. Between 2010 and 2019, its pretax profit grew 18.45% per year, reaching a combined VND6.054 trillion, while it contributed more than VND3.725 trillion to State coffers. Further, a 2018 report by the Ministry of Finance shows that HFIC had the most effective operation in the system of its 42 local investment development funds, making up 21% of the combined equity. HFIC accounted for 44% of the mobilized capital, 37% of the total outstanding loans and 86% of the total portfolio.

According to economists, HFIC is the strategic financial institution of the city, which can use reciprocal capital to mobilize infrastructure investment. In the coming time, HFIC will continue investing and providing funds for projects belonging to the city’s development and demand stimulus programs, major industries and technology innovation sectors.

Local authorities have assigned HFIC to coordinate with consultants and relevant departments to map out a project for turning HCMC into an international financial hub. To implement this task, HFIC will spare no effort to promote its role---serving as a bridge to drive investment capital flows into infrastructure, health, education and environment projects, contributing to the city’s sustainable development.

Hanoi-based enterprises bear brunt of Covid-19, cry for support

Covid-19 could take a heavy toll on Hanoi-based enterprises’ operation if it could not be contained in a couple of months to come.

Pressure from Covid-19 to enterprises like Manh Quang Co., Ltd is mounting, especially after the 17th Covid-19 patient of Vietnam was confirmed in Hanoi on March 6. The company’s CEO Nguyen Manh Quang was concerned his employees could quit on panic of the epidemic.

“We have been severely affected by the disruption of raw materials supply from China because the factories there have no workers to operate,” Quang told Hanoitimes. “We can endure this situation for some more weeks but if it lasts for months, we would be broke.”

Many mechanical and manufacturing enterprises face obstacles due to the lack of inputs. Currently, Vietnamese manufacturers are reliant on Chinese suppliers for input materials, despite aggressive move by South Korean businesses to replace the Chinese ones. Moreover, as South Korean suppliers are also struggling with the impacts of the epidemic, they are unable to fill the gap left by the Chinese.

Located in Tay Ho district, Hanoi, Vision Materials Vietnam Co., Ltd, imports most of its production inputs such as aluminum and accessories from China. Although they stockpiled a large amount of materials before Tet holidays, trade flow at sea and land bordergates with China remains limited due to the epidemic, resulting in input shortages. “If the disease progresses complicatedly, we could not avoid difficulties,” the company’s Managing Director Nguyen Quang Vinh told local media.

To cope with the situation, Manh Quang and Vision Materials Vietnam plan to buy inputs from Taiwan and Japan but at higher costs. “It is difficult for us to find new supply sources at this time, and our operational costs in mid-term would increase,” he said. “Manufacturing is different from other business. It could be more stable but if something wrong happens, it will take very long time to recover as it requires large investment and workforce.”

According to Hanoi Statistics Office, there were about 3,660 newly-established enterprises with registered capital of VND89 trillion (US$3.83 billion) in the first two months of 2020, up 2% in number and 198% in capital compared with the same period of last year. One company registered for establishment with a capital base of VND144 trillion (US$6.2 billion), but it turned out to be a “mistake” by the owners.

Data on the number of enterprises suspending operations and filing for bankruptcy in Hanoi in the first two months this year was not available.

In the whole country, in the period, the number of newly-established enterprises was 17,439 with total registered capital of VND364 trillion (US$15.7 billion), up 9.1% in number and 47.1% in capital compared with the same period of 2019. The number of newly established enterprises and registered capital continues to grow exponentially compared to the same period last year, according to the latest report by Ministry of Planning and Investment.

In the most positive scenario, Manh Quang’s business performance is forecast to reduce 10% compared to its plan for 2020 but with such the current situation, the pandemic affected the whole globe. “It is difficult to have a good scenario for this year. As such, the worst scenario for our company could be a 40-50% decline in revenue,” Quang said.

In such the context, the company’s strategy is to expand targeted markets, mainly in ASEAN and Japan in the long term. The company also defined to standardize the system meeting the quality management standards for the automobile manufacturing such as IATF16949, apply digital transformation, increase marketing activities to the exporting markets.

“Vietnamese consumers are tightening their belts, leading to lower purchase power. It is time to reduce value-added tax in order to stimulate consumption,” he recommended. The government should consider supporting enterprises to reduce logistics costs and environment tax on petrol.

Vinh recommended that in order to cope with the negative impacts of the disease, there should be policies to support businesses in terms of capital and taxes, especially the state inspection should be relaxed.

Agreeing with Vinh, Quang from Manh Quang Co., Ltd suggested that the government needs to have timely support, reduce inspection this year, apply appropriate land rent fees and preferential interest rates for bank loans. “These policies are aimed at helping businesses to avoid bankruptcy, keep creating jobs, maintain social stability and generate revenues for the state coffers,” he said.

According to the Hanoi Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (Hanoisme), 50% of enterprises in manufacturing industries in Hanoi who rely 30-40% of inputs on imports will grow at zero percent in the second quarter of this year.

Production of equipment, machinery, smartphones and means of transportation categories will fall at least 20% each quarter if the epidemic lingers. In order to support businesses, Mac Quoc Anh, vice president of Hanoisme, said that preferential loans and interest rates for businesses are urgent because the impacts of epidemic on enterprises are huge. “It is necessary to promote the development of industrial clusters in order to have a land fund for businesses to expand production and business,” he proposed to the Hanoi Department of Planning and Investment.

Challenge is also the opportunity for Manh Quang, as this time is for his enterprise to improve itself through enhancing the training employees and workers. Shifting focus on the domestic market, increasing export portfolio, diversifying targeted customers and industries is the company’s strategy to reduce risks in the long term.

Investment funds report poor performances

Latest reports from investment funds in February show they have suffered from the decline of the market amid the global spread of the COVID-19.

The benchmark VN-Index on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange has lost a total of 23.1 percent between January 30 and March 14 when the stock market re-opened after the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday.

The tumble of the Vietnamese stock benchmark concurs with the strong selling of foreign investors, which has reached a total net value of nearly 4.73 trillion VND (203.6 million USD) during the period.

In February, the VN-Index was down a total of 5.81 percent and foreign investors net-sold a total of 3.15 trillion (VND).

Worries about COVID-19 and its impact on the global economy and people’s health, and late responses of governments triggered a large-scale sell-off around global markets and pushed indices down.

Investment funds have seen their net asset value (NAV) fall sharply during the time.

The Finland-based PYN Elite Fund announced its February performance fell 2.72 percent on a monthly basis, recording the worst February performance since 2011.

The Hong Kong-based AFC Vietnam Fund recorded a loss of 3.9 percent in February performance. The Swedish fund Tundra Vietnam Fund saw its portfolio value drop 3.1 percent last month, raising the total loss to 7.8 percent in the first two months of the year.

The poor performance was attributed to the strong decline of investees that account for a large proportion of the fund’s portfolio such as the Ho Chi Minh City Infrastructure Investment JSC (CII), the Vietnam Engine and Agricultural Machinery Corporation (VEA) and Mobile World Investment Corp (MWG).

Travelling and immigration restrictions have brought some damage to local industries such as aviation, tourism, energy and exporting agriculture, according to PYN Elite Fund.

In the January-February period, Vietnam’s agriculture exports fell 4.3 percent to 2.5 billion USD. The local Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) dropped to 49 in February from 50.6 in January as orders declined and production costs went up due to the disruption of the global supply chain.

Despite being surrounded by difficulties, foreign funds are still optimistic about the future prospects of the local assets.

AFC Vietnam Fund said in a report the pandemic will cause damage to the global stock markets in one or two quarters and the worst-hit sectors are likely tourism and hospitality.

But losses will be covered quickly in the second six-month period of the year as Vietnamese shares are now cheaper than they were at the beginning of the year.

Vietnam’s economic growth is forecast at 6.0 percent in 2020, down from 7.02 percent made in 2019. But the growth will still be stronger than some others, the fund said.

The Government will have policies to support the hard-hit sectors such as tourism and manufacturing, which contributed 12-20 percent of the total GDP in 2019, and restrain the damage caused by the pandemic.

The moving of factories from China will help raise Vietnam’s GDP growth by additional 2 percent and the ratification of the Europe-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) will boost Vietnam’s exports to the European markets by 42.7 percent in the next five years./.

Banking sector vows adequate capital to keep economy going

The banking sector will ensure adequate capital to keep the economy going, according to an official from the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) which is taking heavy toll on the economy.

Commercial banks in Vietnam have adopted measures to aid enterprises hurt by the epidemic, said Nguyen Quoc Hung, director of the SBV’s Credit Department.

An estimated 44,000 affected firms and individuals, who had taken out total loans of 222 trillion VND (9.6 bilion USD), have benefited from various credit initiatives, ranging from interest rate cuts and loan repayment delays to reduction of fees, he added.

Some 32 out of 45 member banks of the National Payment Corporation of Vietnam (NAPAS) have announced fee waivers and reductions for online inter-bank transactions valued less than 500,000 VND as part of efforts to promote cashless payment and reduce risk of transmission after the World Health Organisation advised people to stop using cash if possible as the notes may help spread the virus.

The central bank last weekend has urged banks to further cut fees for inter-bank transactions worth over 500,000 VND to 2 million VND from March 25 until the end of this year.

The SBV official said earlier this month, Vietnamese commerical banks pledged to offer a credit package worth 285 trillion VND (12.3 billion USD) to support affected businesses, offering 0.5 – 1 percent cut in interest rates.

There are more similar ones to come in the future, he added.

SBV Deputy Governor Dao Minh Tu said to strengthen the commerical banks’ financial capacity, the central bank will soon make a decision on cutting benchmark interest rates as well refinance rates, overnight rates and open-market rates.

It made the last benchmark rate cut by 0.25 percentage points in September last year./.

Public investment disbursement conference slated for April

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has agreed with the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI)’s proposal on a national online conference on speeding up public investment disbursement in 2020, which is set to take place late April.

The PM assigned ministries and leaders of localities nationwide to review and report the implementation and disbursement of public investment in the first three months of the year, especially of national and major projects in transport and agriculture.

The Ministry of Finance (MoF) is asked to revise disbursement of public investment in January-March and put forward measures to bolster the task in the remaining months.

The reports must be sent to the MPI by April 10.

The MPI is requested to join hands with the MoF and relevant agencies to assess and bolster the implementation and disbursement of public investment for 2020, as well as collect opinions on difficulties in public investment disbursement and devise solutions to report at the Government’s regular meeting for April./.

Ho Chi Minh City’s innovation awards launched

The innovation and startup awards (I-Star 2020) were launched on March 16.

The third edition of the awards is being organised by the municipal Department of Science and Technology with the aim of honouring outstanding organisations and individuals in innovation and startup activities.

They are divided into four categories: start-ups with a new business model based on technology and capacity for rapid growth; organisations and individuals with creative and innovative solutions; outstanding media stories that had a great impact on the start-up community; and incubators, investors and experts for assistance to start-ups.

The submissions can be made until August 31.

The awards ceremony will be held within the framework of the HCM City Innovation, Startup and Entrepreneurship Week (WHISE 2020). There will be 12 prizes. Each category will have three prizes.

Last year, the awards received 277 entries./.

Quang Nam fishermen enjoy bumper shrimp season

Fishermen in coastal communes of Duy Hai and Duy Nghia in the central province of Quang Nam are happy with the ongoing bumper ruoc bien (sea shrimp)-season, as a fishing boat can earn a few million of dong per trip.

The atmosphere in the two communes in Duy Xuyen district is bustling. Although it is the start of shrimp season, the fishermen are taking advantage of the weather to go to sea.

According to many local fishermen, this year's season has come later than usual.

 

“Normally, the shrimp season starts in the first lunar month, but this year fell on the fifteenth day of the second lunar month,” Nguyen Van Tai, a 60-year-old fisherman said.

The shrimp fishing season usually lasts only 1-2 months.

Favourable weather has created good conditions for local fishermen to go to sea and bring in lucrative hauls.

Fisherman Le Van Chin, living at Village 3, Duy Hai commune, said that for four days, he and his two sons have been out at sea. A daily trip starts at 5am and ends at about 1pm.

“On one day, we can get a maximum of a tonne of tiny shrimp and a minimum of 100kg,” Chin said.

“Our boat goes about one nautical mile, then we drop the nets at a depth of about 5-6m to catch tiny shrimp.”

“These days, all members of my family are involved in the trade.

“My two sons and I go to sea, while my wife dries shrimp in the sun to sell to the traders.”

Fishermen, after pulling in their nets full of shrimp, they will return to shore. Then a fisherman will use a small conical boat to carry the shrimp ashore and sell to traders on the beach.

The price of fresh shrimp ranges from 20,000-30,000 VND (1.3 USD) per kg, and dried tiny shrimp from 60,000-90,000 VND per kg. Four kilos of fresh shrimp can create 1kg of dried shrimp.

At current prices, Chin and his family can earn more than 10 million VND a day, and a minimum of 1 million VND a day.

Stirfried shrimp with star fruit and deep-fried spring rolls mixed with shrimp are popular dishes in the area./.

Viettel reports 12.8 percent revenue growth in February

Viettel Group has reported that its revenue in February surged by 12.8 percent year-on-year, breaking its target for the month by 2 percent despite the impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic.

The firm’s business units involved in digital transformation products have grown significantly.

Revenue at the Viettel Business Solutions Corporation (VBSC) and the Viettel Digital Services Corporation surged by 111 percent and 107 percent, respectively.

The domestic telecommunications service sector recorded a year-on-year increase of 8.6 percent, whilst the international telecommunications service sector saw a surge of 21.5 percent.

To maintain this momentum will not be an easy task for Viettel given the complicated developments of the disease. Some units have adjusted their business plans.

Viettel Post plans to add capital to solve the impacts caused by COVID-19 on its delivery services. Meanwhile, VBSC will promote other activities to compensate for the roaming service’s decreased revenue.

Viettel has boosted retail sales to make up for the loss of its import-export revenue.

The group is also supporting the Government, ministries and customers in the fight against the epidemic by offering free online teaching and learning services on ViettelStudy system; and building an application that allows the Government and the Ministry of Health to manage medical declarations at international airports, border gates and seaports.

Viettel Post is ensuring deliveries of goods to quarantine areas throughout the country. Meanwhile, the Threat Intelligence system of the Viettel Cyber Security has detected and alerted customers to two big attacks related to the COVID-19 epidemic./.

Dong Nai seeks ways to support coronavirus-affected firms

Many economic sectors in the southern province of Dong Nai, including major industries, are expected to face a range of difficulties due to the impact of COVID-19, especially in ensuring supplies of production materials.

The municipal Department of Industry and Trade has proposed the Ministry of Industry and Trade provide information about sources of foreign materials, mainly for garment-textile, weaving, electronics and mechanics, as imports of materials from China and the Republic of Korea (RoK) are forecast to be affected by the virus.

Local leaders have also recommended tax and customs agencies to postpone periodic inspections on businesses with no signals of violations in 2020 to enable them to better deal with operational challenges, and halt social insurance collections from coronavirus-hit firms until the end of June or December.

Cao Tien Dung, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, urged departments, agencies and localities to cut unnecessary administrative procedures and help enterprises remove difficulties.

The State Bank of Vietnam’s provincial branch said it had ordered credit institutions to roll out support measures for businesses in the locality.

According to the provincial Department of Industry and Trade, the import turnover of enterprises in Dong Nai stood at 2.1 billion USD in the first two months of this year, down 9 percent year-on-year.

Major industries, comprising garment-textile; leather and footwear; mechanics-manufacturing; chemicals-rubber-plastics; and electricity-electronics, mainly rely on materials from China and the RoK.

Apart from difficulties in material supplies, businesses have experienced declines in output and revenue, and increases in labour costs./.

Bac Giang’s tourism thrives

The northern province of Bac Giang is striving to serve 2.5 million tourists in 2020, according to Director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Tran Minh Ha.

On December 31, 2019, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc issued a decision recognising the Xuong Giang Victory Relic Site in Bac Giang city as national special relic. This is expected to draw more visitors to the province in the coming time.

In 2020, the local steering committee for tourism development is actively supporting investors, especially in land clearance, to implement tourism development projects approved by the provincial People’s Committee.

The steering committee said it will continue consulting the People’s Committee to appeal for investment in tourism development projects in 2020 and in 2021-2025.

It will also intensify the state management of tourism activities and check the progress of investment projects, while consulting the People’s Committee to promulgate new and more effective policies to create favourable conditions for businesses.

The provincial Department of Tourism, Sports and Tourism will focus on improving the quality and efficiency of State management on tourism, especially activities of travel service businesses, as well as develop community-based tourism, apply digital technology in promoting tourism, and have common criteria for tourism development.

The locality is also finalising procedures and implementing major tourism development projects such as a high-end hotel and general trading centre in Bac Giang city worth 468 billion VND; Viet Yen golf course worth over 1.2 trillion VND in Huong Mai and Trung son communes (Viet Yen district); Bac Giang golf course and resort area worth nearly 1.2 trillion VND in Chu Dien, Kham Lang and Yen Son communes (Luc Nam district); the Hang Dau ecological area worth 497 billion VND in Nham Son commune (Yen Dung district); and the Bac Bo ancient cultural village worth 523 billion VND in Tien Son commune (Viet Yen district).

In 2019, the total number of tourists to Bac Giang was estimated at 2 million, a year-on-year rise of 33 percent, including about 29,000 foreigners. The tourism sector grossed nearly 760 billion VND in revenue.

The provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism consulted the People’s Committee to recognise five local tourist sites, namely Vinh Nghiem pagoda, Yen Dung golf course, and Bo Da pagoda in Viet Yen district, and Hoang Hoa Tham historical relic site and Ven village community-based tourism site in Yen The district.

However, according to the local steering committee for tourism development, the tourism sector still has some shortcomings such as poor technical infrastructure which has yet been able to match socio-economic growth. Besides, the quality of tourism services, entertainment parks, and shopping centres remains limited./.

Da Nang seeks approval for four property projects

The People’s Committee in the central coastal city of Da Nang has asked the city's People's Council to grant in-principle approval for four property projects expected to cost more than VND3.67 trillion (US$158 million), online newspaper baodautu.vn reported.

The projects are an ecological urban area complex spanning 87.4ha in Hoa Son Commune, Hoa Vang District with 1,845 adjacent houses and 134 villas; two other complexes with a total area of 157ha and providing 2,517 adjacent houses, 323 villas and 394 apartments; and a 100ha lakefront eco-villa complex to be developed in Hoa Nhon Commune with 92 villas.

After receiving in-principle approval from the People's Council, the People's Committee will hold bidding to select investors to implement the project in accordance with the law, according to the newspaper.

In 2019, the city attracted nine domestically-financed projects with total registered capital of more than VND8.82 trillion. It also lured above $690 million in foreign direct investment with $438 million from 132 new projects, $117 million from 16 capital-added ones and the remainder from capital contributions and share purchases by foreign investors.

As of last year, the city had 1,144 valid investment projects, including 813 foreign-invested, with a combined capital of $7.93 billion.

In order to facilitate businesses and investors, the municipal Investment and Planning Department has officially launched a business registration service at home, saving time and travel costs for these firms, offering completion in three working days.

The department’s business support division said all enterprises could apply for registration via email or phone, and the centre would process the request before sending documents to customers by post.

The city also launched an e-Government system in 2014 to provide 1,196 online administration procedures, including one-stop shops, residential management, public transport and water supervision.

Sao Ta Food plans to buy back 2 million treasury shares

Sao Ta Food, (FMC), a subsidiary of Pan Group, plans to buy back two million treasury shares through order matching and negotiation.

As of March 16, FMC shares closed at VND19,800 (US$0.86) on the HCM Stock Exchange, so the firm was expected to pay VND39.6 billion for the shares.

According to the firm, the transaction time would be within 30 days after the day the State Securities Commission approved the share buyback.

At the beginning of February, before the pandemic was announced, the firm mentioned: “The Chinese market only plays a small proportion, so the impact is not too large.”

As the pandemic has spread and affected many countries, the worst-case scenario for seafood exporters including Sao Ta was visible.

Recently, FMC stock has plummeted to the bottom of more than one year. Compared to the beginning of 2020, FMC shares have decreased by 28 per cent.

Last year, Sao Ta Food's revenue decreased by VND100 billion compared to 2018, to close at VND3.7 trillion. Thanks to the sharp cut in cost, its profit before tax still reached VND236 billion, exceeding 31 per cent of the annual plan, profit after tax reached nearly VND230 billion, an increase of 27 per cent compared to the profit achieved in 2018.

Based in the southern province of Soc Trang, Sao Ta engaged in farming and processing prawn and shrimp. Its products are mostly sold in Japan, the United States and Canada.

In 2018, Vietnamese agriculture and food company PAN Group JSC registered to buy nearly 4.8 million shares of Sao Ta at VND30,000 each to raise its holding in the firm to 45 per cent.

As per the latest data, PAN Group JSC and its members held 68.5 per cent of the stake in Sao Ta. — VNS

Pork imports up more than 200 per cent

Việt Nam imported nearly 25,300 tonnes pork as of March 15, representing a rise of 205 per cent over the same period last year, latest updates from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development showed.

Pork imports aimed to make up for the shortage in supply and cool off skyrocketing pork prices which were caused by the African swine fever.

Pork was mainly imported from Canada (29 per cent), Germany (19 per cent), Poland (12 per cent), Brazil (12 per cent) and the US (5.5 per cent).

Recently, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc asked the agriculture ministry and relevant agencies to implement measures to lower pork prices.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyễn Xuân Cường asked big husbandry companies to reduce live hog price to VNĐ70,000 (US$3).

Pork prices were on a downward trend but remained at high levels in some northern provinces like Hưng Yên, Lào Cai and Phú Thọ, with live hog price at around VNĐ83,000 per kilo for live hog.

If the pork prices were not lowered to the expected levels, Việt Nam would increase imports in an effort to cool off the prices, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phùng Đức Tiến said.

Russian food supplier Miratorg was expected to export the first batch of pork to Việt Nam at the end of this month.

Việt Nam was strengthening pig reproduction with the focus on ensuring biosafety standards. As a result, pork supply was expected to start to increase from this month.

The Animal Health Department also urged the Ministry of Industry and Trade and relevant agencies to provide support to Vietnamese firms in seeking sources to import pork in the context of the novel coronavirus outbreak which was hindering cross-border trade.

The ministry cited statistics that the global herd of pigs totalled 678 million in January, 12 per cent lower than the same month of 2019.

From the beginning of this year, Việt Nam also increased imports of buffalo meat (with 19,356 tonnes, up by 128 per cent), beef (14,160 tonnes, up 217 per cent) and poultry meat (48,300 tonnes, up by 86 per cent).

Da Nang: over 1.98 million USD for developing community tourism

The People’s Committee of the central city of Da Nang has decided to spend 46.1 billion VND (over 1.98 million USD) on developing community-based tourism in Nam O Bay, Lien Chieu district.

Accordingly, holiday-makers will have an opportunity to experience daily life and cultural activities, and enjoy local food while visiting the locality.

The project aims to fully tap local advantages and potential to diversify tourism products and services.

It will also contribute to promoting the preservation of cultural heritages and introduce the image of local fishing villages to visitors.

According to the municipal Department of Tourism, Da Nang aims to serve 9.8 million tourists in 2020, a year-on-year rise of 12.74 percent.

Besides developing the domestic market, the city has focused on potential markets such as France, Germany, Russia, Australia, North America and India.

In 2019, Da Nang welcomed 8.69 million holidaymakers, including nearly 3.5 million foreigners, up 30.7 percent from the previous year./.

Quang Tri unlocks potential of coastal area

The coastal area of central Quang Tri province has served as an engine for local socio-economic development by luring many investors in leisure tourism, seaports and energy.

A 75km coastline and stunning beaches have favoured leisure tourism in Quang Tri. Besides, Cua Viet and My Thuy are ideal destinations for the construction of large-scale seaports that can handle ships of up to 100,000 tonnes.

Maritime tourism has been one of the magnets for Quang Tri, especially the Cua Tung-Cua Viet-Con Co island triangle, which is expected to be named a national tourist site in the near future.

Such pristine beaches as Cua Tung, Cua Viet, My Thuy and Mui Treo have become investment darlings. One of the most noteworthy projects is the 1.7 trillion VND (73.1 million USD) AE Resort-Cua Tung marine ecological urban area that covers more than 36ha.

In late August 2018, the People’s Committee of Con Co island district put into service high-speed boats from Con Co to Cua Viet beach, helping to reduce the travel time from 2 hours to only 45 minutes.

Quang Tri has also helped travel companies to access preferential capital and land-related incentives, while helping them with investment promotions and tourism connectivity in an effort to make tourism an economic spearhead, said Ha Sy Dong, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee.

Apart from the Cua Viet seaport in Gio Linh district that can receive vessels of 3,000 tonnes, Quang Tri expects to house more seaports in the coming time, including one capable of receiving ships of 5,000 tonnes in Trieu An commune, Trieu Phong district. The 640 billion VND project on which construction is scheduled to last from 2020 to 2030 is expected to help attract more investment to the Quang Tri southeast economic zone.

In late February, the My Thuy International Port Joint Venture Company began the construction of a 14 trillion VND project in Hai An commune, Hai Lang district. With ten wharves capable of receiving ships of 100,000 tonnes, the seaport mainly serves the Quang Tri southeast economic zone, industrial parks in the province and goods from Laos and northeast Thailand via the North-East Economic Corridor.

With around 1,500 MW of solar power, Quang Tri has seen the presence of first solar power plants in coastal communes like Gio Thanh and Gio Hai in Gio Linh district.

By mid-March, the province had attracted 20 solar power projects, including one operational, two under construction and six submitted to the Ministry of Industry and Trade for approval.

The construction of the deep-water My Thuy port has also facilitated the building of gas-powered and thermal power plants in the Quang Tri southeast economic zone, including the 1,320 MW thermal power project that has the largest-ever investment in Quang Tri so far, at 55 trillion VND.

Russia’s Gazprom is building a 340 MW gas-powered plant. Meanwhile, T&T Group is working on a thermal power project using liquefied gas, with total capacity in the first phase at 1,200-1,500 MW, with the second phase at 2,400-3,000 MW. /.

Public capital disbursement improves in first two months

Almost 34.75 trillion VND (1.49 billion USD) of public investment capital was disbursed in the first two months of 2020, equivalent to 7.38 percent of the year’s plan and nearly doubling the value and progress in the same period last year.

More than 33.62 trillion VND of domestic capital and 1.12 trillion VND of foreign capital was disbursed in January and February 2020, Deputy Director of the Finance Ministry’s Department of Investment Le Tuan Anh said on March 17.

The disbursed sum in the same period of 2019 accounted for only 4.52 percent of the year’s target.

In particular, ministries and central agencies disbursed over 5.89 trillion VND and localities, nearly 28.86 trillion VND so far this year, respectively equivalent to 5.46 percent and 7.96 percent of the targets set for them. The respectively rates in the same period last year were only about 1.21 percent and 5 percent.

Outstanding performers in this work include the Vietnam Development Bank (31 percent), the Vietnam Farmers’ Union (13 percent), the Ministry of National Defence (14.4 percent), the Ministry of Health (11 percent), the Government Inspectorate (10 percent), along with the provinces of Ninh Binh (38 percent), Nam Dinh (24 percent), Lang Son (23 percent), Kon Tum (14 percent), and Lao Cai (13 percent).

Anh said although the capital disbursement progress so far this year fared much better than in the same period of 2019, it remained lower than expected since most of ministries, sectors and localities still focused on dealing with the capital they didn’t finish disbursing in 2019.

He attributed the improved progress partly to their early making of capital allocation plans and the revised Law on Public Investment, taking effect at the beginning of 2020, which empowers ministries, central agencies and localities to verify capital sources and capital balancing ability.

A national teleconference is scheduled to take place in late April to seek ways to accelerate the disbursement of public investment capital for this year, the official added./.

HCM City asks enterprises to keep prices stable

The People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City has asked enterprises participating in the price stabilisation programme to increase the amount of goods in the market this year.

Businesses will participate in price stabilisation of 10 commodity groups including rice, instant noodles, dried noodles, RE and RS sugars, cooking oil, cattle meat, poultry meat, poultry eggs, processed food, vegetables, seafood and spices.

The stabilised goods have prices 5-10 percent lower than the market price. The annual market stabilisation programme starts on April 1 and finishes at the end of March 31 next year.

It is expected that in normal months, these price-stabilised goods account for 25 -30 percent of market demand and in the last months of the year, they account for 30 -40 percent of market demand.

According to the plan, each month businesses will provide at least 2,553 tonnes of food, nearly 48 million poultry eggs, 1,345 tonnes of sugar, 486 tonnes of processed foods, 715 tonnes of cooking oil, 4,930 tonnes of vegetables and fruits, 4,019 tonnes of animal meat, 123 tonnes of seafood, 9,062 tonnes of poultry meat and 423 tonnes of spices.

In coordination with the city government, and to stabilise supply and demand to respond urgently to the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic, businesses said they were ready to supply an additional 30-40 percent of goods compared with the original plan./.

 
 

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